A film that’s simultaneously humble and ambitious, I had a good time with Big Ass Spider!. It’s a movie that sets out to elevate the terrain usually staked out for Asylum type productions and build something more enjoyable on it. In that regard, the film succeeds. Even though Spider‘s brand of humor and sub-genre aren’t necessarily my thing (though I did laugh a lot), I appreciated the wise decision to go the buddy-comedy route and actually stick with it – a rare choice for this kind of outing. It’s here that director Mike Mendez really sets his film apart.
Greg Grunberg plays Alex, a bumbling yet efficient exterminator. After being bitten by a brown recluse on the job, he’s taken to a hospital (where he really seizes upon the opportunity to flirt with the nurses). Soon after his arrival things begin to go awry. A mysterious corpse (housing a few guests) is wheeled in and, as they say, we’re off to the races. The hospital setting is pretty much ground zero for the first part of the film, and it’s there we meet most of our characters – chief among them the janitor Jose, played Lombardo Boyar (with Clare Kramer’s Lieutenant Brant a second place MVP).
Part of the charm of Big Ass Spider! is that it knows exactly what it is. It hits all the requisite beats (the spider, of course, is the result of military testing) but it always remains fleet and never lingers on or fetishizes its limitations. For example, the CGI isn’t great. But there’s a lot of it and Mendez never winks at the iffiness of the visuals, he just plows on ahead as if he’s making a movie that costs 50 times as much. That’s the kind of moxie I can get behind. The kills are also plentiful, inventive and gory.
Of course, most movies in this sub-genre are slight – and Spider is no exception. While it’s certainly no Asylum movie, it doesn’t get anywhere close to the realm of something like James Gunn’s Slither, either. It’s just not in that league. So while I can’t really take Mendez’s film to task for not being a five-skull movie, I can’t exactly just give it those five skulls either. It’s a weird conundrum, but it boils down to this – how strongly could I recommend this movie to all of our readers? The answer goes something like, “I certainly recommend it but feel that I need to contextualize that recommendation with something that provides the viewer with a realistic set of expectations.”
Big Ass Spider! will be a nice movie for that night when you want to crack open a few beers and hang with some friends. Nothing more, and certainly nothing less. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It also doesn’t hurt to open with The Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind” – if you ever need a direct link to my heart that’s one of the 10 songs that will get you there.